In post-World War II England, former Secret Service operative Mirabelle Bevan becomes embroiled in a new kind of intrigue…
1951: In the popular seaside town of Brighton, it’s time for Mirabelle Bevan to move beyond her tumultuous wartime years and start anew. Accepting a job at a debt collection agency seems a step toward a more tranquil life.
But as she follows up on a routine loan to Romana Laszlo, a pregnant Hungarian refugee who’s recently come off the train from London, Mirabelle’s instincts for spotting deception are stirred when the woman is reported dead, along with her unborn child.
After encountering a social-climbing doctor with a sudden influx of wealth and Romana’s sister, who seems far from bereaved and doesn’t sound Hungarian, Mirabelle decides to dig deeper into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Aided by her feisty sidekick—a fellow office worker named Vesta Churchill (“no relation to Winston,” as she explains)—Mirabelle unravels a web of evil that stretches from the Brighton beachfront to the darkest corners of Europe. Putting her own life at risk, she must navigate a lethal labyrinth of lies and danger to expose the truth. (Synopsis via Amazon)
Mirabelle Bevan is intelligent, elegant, and sophisticated. She takes the job at the debt collection agency in an effort to help her forget her grief over her dead lover, Jack. Right before he could leave his wife, he leaves them both. All Mirabelle has is an apartment, memories, and what could have been’s. When her boss, Gus, takes ill and then goes missing, the Romana case and budding friendship with Vesta are just the ticket to pull her out of her misery shell.
It was amusing to see Mirabelle contrast the writing/reading of intelligence manuals with the actual doing. The reality is usually a world away from what’s imagined. Vesta is the perfect foil and partner for Mirabelle. Her friendly matter of fact attitude and refusal to be a “victim” was refreshing. Her quiet dignity is the perfect accompaniment to Mirabelle’s elegance and sophistication.
The death of a character that, in my opinion, had quite a bit of potential as far as future cases, was disappointing. I’d been looking forward to hearing their stories and getting to know them better.
BRIGHTON BELLE shows promise as a series. My main issue is that there were a few times it felt as though this might be the second book, rather than the first.
It’s worth reading the second to discover if Belle and Vesta live up to their potential.